Connections

I’m fortunate to have more than 700 Facebook friends. Although I’ve become privy to their whims and ways, I really don’t know many on a personal basis. I’ve never met the majority, or shaken a hand, or chatted over an iced tea. That’s more a regret than a criticism. It’s a sign of the times, I guess. And yet, despite such detachment, there always seems to be a few who will spark a connection to my own sometimes distant whims and ways.

Flashback: July 1970

I’m sitting in one of those little tow tractors used to reposition jets on the flight deck. The jets are gone now so it’s dark out, quiet. We’re on our way back to America after a seven-month deployment. Tomorrow, we’ll dock in Florida. Tomorrow, my enlistment is done.

But this evening, it’s just the stars, my wristwatch…and me. It’s a given there will be no sleep. So a buddy has loaned me a cassette player for company. Good for an hour of his favored 60’s rock. Then what?

It’s 10 PM when I press play:

You were the sunshine, baby, whenever you smiled
But I call you stormy today
All of a sudden that ole rain’s fallin’ down
And my world is cloudy and gray

Huh? Who is this guy with such a smooth, clear voice, a kind of throaty baritone both distinctive and alluring, so different from the current airwaves fare?

The song ends; another begins:

In the cool of the evening
When everything is gettin’ kind of groovy
I call you up and ask you
Would you like to go with me and see a movie
First you say no you’ve got some plans for the night
And then you stop and say…all right
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you

It’s emotional, soulful, mellow. The band is seamless with elements of jazzy sax coupled with soft rock. But it’s that melancholy voice that is so hauntingly magnetic:

Waves…keep rolling out and in
‘Cross the sea and back again
As I watch them I begin,
To dream…

The tape runs out and I check its label. The Classics IV.

The Classics who?

Rewind to start. Play. Rewind. OK, once more. Then again. Again. And again again.

Before I know it…

When the sun comes up in the morning
Till the shadows start to fade
I think about a midnight long ago…

…it is 6 AM.

And someone named Dennis Yost has kept me company all night long.

Fast forward: May 2017

I’ve become Facebook friends with Linda Yost. She describes herself as the “wife/widow” of Dennis Yost. Yes, that Dennis Yost. It is only now that I learn of his death. He fell down a flight of stairs in 2006, suffered a debilitating brain injury, and passed away after spending the next two years in nursing homes.

I should be immune to poignant passings by now. Yet for some reason this news makes me feel very hollow.

The music of The Classics IV has been a constant companion in my life, evolving from cassette and LP to CD. In fact, the songs helped provide the generational inspiration I needed as I sat to write my book.

I never met Dennis Yost, although I would have relished the opportunity if only because of his influence on that dark night at sea. Yet listening to his voice and those Classics sounds always evokes a strange sense of closeness that is difficult to understand let alone convey.

Today, Linda is in charge of the Dennis Yost Severe Brain Trauma Foundation in Ohio.

I naturally must tell her the circumstances surrounding my introduction, as it were, to her husband. I feel silly, an old man recollecting what must seem like a teen-aged groupie story. I guess you had to be there, alone on that flight deck that night, to make sense of it, I say.

“No, I understand,” she replies, and adds how, before she even met Dennis, her family’s new dog had been christened “Spooky.”

“Dennis didn’t seem to realize how much his music meant to people.”

She shares that Dennis, realizing he could no longer perform, entrusted his lead-singer role to friend Tom Garrett. In the final year of his life, Dennis worked closely with Tom to keep the legacy and musical traditions of The Classics IV alive.

“Tom Garrett is a huge admirer of JFK,” Linda informs me, further bridging the connection.

Then, she offers me complimentary tickets to an upcoming show in Pittsburgh, and a rare opportunity of getting together with her and Tom, who has also become a Facebook friend.

“Can’t wait to meet you,” Linda says.

August 5, 2017                                                                                  

I’m watching a 2013 performance of the band recorded on YouTube. It’s the best I can do under the circumstances: the Pittsburgh concert was unexpectedly cancelled at the last moment.

In this video, a backdrop screen shimmers as it displays passing images of Dennis Yost. Tom Garrett walks forward to sing Traces. It was the highest-charting single by The Classics IV back in the heyday:

Faded photographs
Covered now with lines and creases
Tickets torn in half
Memories in bits and pieces

It’s fitting that he offers this particular song with these particular lyrics while those particular snapshots float overhead.

Tom has the admirable habit of doing this.

“I tell people that the place I stand on, on that stage, belongs to Dennis Yost,” he once told an interviewer. “He earned it and he asked me to take care of it for him. So, I’m the caretaker of that place on stage. That’s how I see my role.”

Although an in-person(s) connection was not made, I feel like I’ve come full circle with The Classics IV. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve circled back on myself.

I can picture Dennis Yost standing on a stage, mic in hand, that notable voice singing like he forever will on my overplayed disks. But of course that scene is nothing more than nostalgia talking. And that can be a dangerous dialogue if you aren’t careful enough.

For it is no longer Dennis Yost up there. It is no longer Cobb and Eaton and Wilson behind him. They have become the past. They have become one more regret.

But the passage of life and the evolution of The Classics IV has in no way diminished the quality of their current sound, nor the effectiveness of those enduring — dare I say endearing — lyrics. What you see now is the new Classics IV, still alive and well and doing what they do best. It is what Dennis Yost wanted, strived to make happen in his final days, worked hard to have continue long after his own passage through life.

And the connection to him – even though it’s without him – will always live on.

When the sun comes up in the morning
Till the shadows start to fade
I think about a midnight long ago…

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An Interview

Q:  “I’ve been told you did an interesting interview several years ago with someone named ‘Wilson’ (first name unknown). I’ve searched online but can’t seem to find it. Do you happen to have a copy I can read?” Ben (Sacramento, Calif.)

A: Thanks for your interest, Ben. The interview was done in February 2014 with Bob Wilson. A transcript is below.

Can you tell those who may not know who Vicki Adams was a bit about her history and her relation to the JFK case? And also about her time as a nun?     

Vicki was born in San Francisco. At the age of 11, she became a ward of the State of California after her parents abandoned her, something that would haunt her for the rest of her life. She was shuffled between several foster homes until she graduated in 1959 from Presentation High School, an all-girls’ Catholic institution. She then entered the Novitiate at St. Martin, Ohio, in the Ursuline Order, studying to become a nun. She had gone to boarding school there at the age of 10 and considered the environment to be somewhat stable and orderly, characteristics she was desperately seeking. Two years later she moved to Atlanta, where she taught a sixth-grade class at the Immaculate Heart of Mary school. When the academic year ended in 1962, she was off again, this time to Dallas for another job as a sixth-grade teacher at St. Monica’s school. In mid-1963, the Scott Foresman Co., with local offices on the fourth-floor of the Texas School Book Depository, was looking to expand their school textbook sales into the Catholic school system in the southwest. Vicki applied for the position and was hired. It was from the windows of her new workplace that she observed the assassination below. Moments after the final shot, she ran from the fourth floor and descended the back stairs of the Depository to get outside and see what had happened. According to the Warren Report, her actions would have put her on those stairs at the same time Lee Oswald was coming down them from the sixth floor “sniper’s nest.” But because she testified that she had seen and heard no one on those stairs, Vicki was labeled as having been mistaken with her timing, and dismissed.

On November 22, 1963 there seem to be some witnesses to corroborate Ms. Adams testimony. Can you please tell us about that?

The Warren Report gives the impression that Miss Adams made her trip down the back stairs alone. It fails to mention, however, that a co-worker by the name of Sandra Styles accompanied Vicki and could have provided corroboration as to the timing of their descent. This fact is not revealed unless one makes the effort to read the testimony of Miss Adams in the 26 volumes. In addition, Miss Adams’ supervisor, Dorothy Garner, actually followed Vicki and Sandra out the rear of the office and watched as they entered the staircase. So we have two additional witnesses who could have attested to what Vicki was saying. Sandra Styles was never questioned by the Warren Commission. And a document citing Dorothy Garner in which we find confirmation of Vicki’s accuracy was suppressed until 1999. Dorothy Garner, by the way, was not officially questioned by the Warren Commission, but she told me in an exclusive interview in 2011 that “someone” from the Commission had indeed talked with her “briefly” about this incident. No record or transcript of that interview can be found.

Can you describe the actions of Roy Truly and Marrion Baker in the Book Depository at the time of JFK’s murder, and how you interviewed them?

When the shots were fired, Dallas Police Officer Marrion Baker, riding a motorcycle in the motorcade, noticed pigeons flying from the roof of the Depository. He ran into the building with intentions of getting to the roof and was met by TSBD supervisor Roy Truly. Both then proceeded up the rear staircase. On the second floor, Baker noticed a man entering the second of two doorways leading to a lunchroom and went to confront him. When Truly told the officer this man was an employee, Baker holstered his drawn gun and both he and Truly continued up the stairs. The lunchroom man turned out to be Oswald, who then left the building by way of the front door. I talked with Truly in 1968, who repeated his statements that Oswald was calm, cool and collected during his encounter with Baker. Truly told me Oswald did not present the appearance of one who had just shot the president of the United States. Unfortunately, Truly denied my request for access to the sixth floor. But he did allow me to roam around on the first floor and, when no one was looking, I climbed the back stairs to look around in the lunchroom and the surrounding area. I was fortunate to get a rare telephone interview with Marrion Baker in 2004, who provided details that also corroborated what Vicki Adams had been saying concerning the timing of her descent.

What do you feel may have been the motivation for the Warren Commission to cover up guilt in the case? And can you speak a bit about witnesses who say that their testimony was altered?

In my opinion, the cover up was the result of who the Warren Commission believed was involved in a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. Several witnesses I interviewed, including Roger Craig and Victoria Adams, told me their testimony had been changed from what they initially said versus what ended up being printed in the 26 volumes. Since my focus was on Vicki, I studied extensively her official statements and discovered only recently that TWO versions of her official Warren Commission testimony now exist, one declassified in 1967 and a second declassified in 2011, coincidentally two months after The Girl on the Stairs was published. Vicki always told me her testimony as it appears in the 26 volumes includes comments attributed to her that she did not say and, according to her, appeared to have been inserted with the express purpose of making her appear wrong. In order to determine if this was the case, I filed a FOIA request with the National Archives to examine the original stenographer’s notes of Vicki’s testimony – not a transcript but the actual words taken down by the court reporter who was present as Vicki was being questioned. I knew the Archives had these documents for they are listed in the inventory of JFK records under “Entry 39: Stenotype Notes of Proceedings, January 21-September 15, 1964.” Vicki had been questioned on April 7, 1964. Several weeks after my request, I was informed the notes regarding Vicki’s testimony were missing.

Can you please tell us a bit about the contents of your interview with Roger Craig as related to 11/22/63?

Roger Craig was a decorated Dallas deputy sheriff in 1963. Thanks to Penn Jones, I was able to get a lengthy taped interview with him in 1968. He was soft spoken and appeared to be credible, if a bit paranoid. The latter detail was based on his actions when he picked me up at my hotel and he conducted cat-and-mouse maneuvers on his way to his sister’s home outside Dallas. But as the afternoon progressed and I experienced first-hand an attempt by the Dallas police to intimidate him, I understood why he felt that way. During our interview he repeated what he had been saying up to that point: that he had seen a man he later identified as Lee Oswald run from the area of the Depository shortly after the assassination and get into a passing station wagon; that the rifle found on the sixth floor was a 7.65 German Mauser; that the ‘sniper’s nest” appeared to have been staged; that the paper bag used to transport the rifle was NOT present at the window; and that the three cartridge cases found near the sixth-floor window did not appear to have been recently fired.

What evidence places Lee Harvey Oswald in the lunchroom at the time of the murder of President Kennedy?

There is no evidence that definitively places Oswald in the second-floor lunchroom as the shots were being fired. If you believe what Oswald is quoted as telling police during his interrogation sessions (12 hours that went unrecorded and without a stenographer being present), he was eating his lunch in the first-floor domino room when the shots occurred, and then went to the second floor to purchase a drink. This is perhaps why Vicki Adams did not see him on the stairs, why he was so calm during the lunchroom confrontation, and why Baker first described Oswald as entering the lunchroom from a direction other than the back staircase. Certainly Vicki Adams saying she was on the stairs during this critical period presented an obvious problem to the Warren Commission’s scenario, which might explain why she was the only person excluded from time tests regarding Oswald’s escape, and why corroborating witnesses to her story were ignored.

How did you finally locate Ms. Adams, and what was her reaction to your overtures to offer her a platform to speak about these events?

In her testimony before the Warren Commission, Vicki said she graduated from high school in San Francisco. That little tidbit is eventually what led me to finding her, albeit some 35 years later. Once I purchased a computer to write my book, I used this new technology to conduct an online search through the alumni pages of every high school in the San Francisco Bay area, starting alphabetically with the letter “A.” When I finally reached Presentation High School, I came across a Victoria Adams in a graduating class of 1959. The name, of course, fit. So did the year. But several inquiries to the school resulted in no replies. A friend of mine – we’ll call him Larry Roberge – was a Pennsylvania State Police investigator who was also very adept with a computer. He offered to help. Within a week he had ferreted out Vicki’s email address and had written her a note, saying that he was a former classmate of hers at Presentation and was wondering if she was the Victoria Adams who had once worked in Dallas for the Scott Foresman Company. When Vicki replied yes, she was indeed that woman, he turned the matter over to me and the rest is my history. Vicki would later tell me she was very curious about his reference to once being a classmate of hers, since Presentation was an all-girls’ school. Vicki was at first hesitant to talk about her past, not really knowing much about me. I had to do some work to convince her that I was legitimate. She would later say the fact I was so persistent in my efforts to determine her side of the story was what eventually made her trust me and feel comfortable about discussing it.

Can you describe a bit your relationship to researcher Harold Weisberg, and what kind of a man that you knew him to be?

I had read Harold’s Whitewash series by the time I stumbled across him one morning as he sat in the National Archives. I was new to this mess then and, for some reason, he took me under his wing. Many have since said that my current beliefs on this subject were influenced solely by Harold’s conclusions that a government cover up had occurred. That is simply not true. My current beliefs have been influenced by an objective and thorough approach to examining the existing evidence, a lesson in research methods taught to me by Harold. He would often call me up or discuss in person various research projects – what he called “assignments” – that he wanted me to work on. I was flattered by the opportunities, even though his “assignments” often got me followed, my phone tapped, and my mail opened. As it turned out, his final “assignment” for me was to write The Girl on the Stairs. [For a better understanding of Harold’s thoughts, see A Conversation with Harold Weisberg by clicking on the Interviews tab above.]

What changes in policy do you think those responsible for JFK’s death might have been trying to force?

Now here you have hit upon the key to it. What was happening before his death and what occurred after? Kennedy’s efforts toward peace and an easing of world tensions were not popular policies back then.

Were any witnesses in the JFK case that you came across intimidated, or possibly murdered?

I can think of three who I knew. Roger Craig was clearly nervous about coming into Dallas that day for our interview. Carroll Jarnagin was even worse during the two times I talked with him. Jarnagin was a Dallas attorney who claimed he saw Oswald and Ruby together in Ruby’s nightclub. He told me someone tried to asphyxiate him as he slept in his home one night. Then there is Victoria Adams, who said a Dallas Police investigator appeared on her doorstep one night under circumstances that suggested she had been followed to that address. When she asked the officer why she was being questioned again since she had already provided a statement to the Dallas Police, he told her that her file had been burned in a fire at police headquarters. This, of course, did not happen.

Can you speak a little about the murder of Officer Tippit, and how that seems to fit into the overall case.

In my opinion, the murder of Officer J. D. Tippit has not been completely resolved. There are just too many unanswered questions here. We have the official version, of course. But that contains a lot of evidentiary holes and contradictions. Then, for instance, you have statements by Mrs. Donald Higgins, who I interviewed, who said the Tippit murder occurred at 1:06 pm, certainly much earlier than the 1:16 pm time proposed by the Commission. That earlier time would preclude Oswald from having committed it, unless he arrived there by some other means. Mrs. Higgins was never officially questioned about any of this (do you see the pattern here?). If it were only her providing this earlier time, one could easily say she was mistaken. But the circumstances surrounding how she arrived at that time are very credible, she had no reason to lie, and other witnesses (including one the Commission used to say Oswald did it) have supported an earlier time to Tippit’s murder as well.

Lee Harvey Oswald was labeled as a loner, and malcontent. From what you have learned of him, can you describe a bit about who he seems to have actually been?

He was definitely an odd fellow. But he was also smart, capable, for instance, of beating others more advanced than he was at chess and, if you believe the official record, able to teach himself Russian, one of the most challenging languages to learn, especially on your own. He liked the opera and was a vociferous reader, knowledgeable in a lot of subjects. His actions in both his military and civilian lives seem consistent with someone having a far deeper complexity than what we have been told. Oh, and he was also a rather poor shot!

Can you please tell us about the latest edition of your book?

The Girl on the Stairs was initially self-published. I had several literary agents early on in the game who offered it to numerous commercial publishers. Those publishers either weren’t interested, or wanted me to write a concluding chapter speculating as to how the assassination went down and who I thought did it. Since the whole point of my book was a search for truth and for the woman who ultimately possessed it, I refused to conclude it with nothing more than conjecture. Harold Weisberg had taught me well. “But it’s for entertainment,” one publisher commented. I was not convinced. My final literary agent suggested I self-publish and perhaps if I could sell near 10,000 books on my own, it might catch the eye of a commercial publisher. To my amazement, the book sold 15,000 copies in one year. Pelican Publishing in New Orleans became interested and, with updated research and a better editorial eye from their end, it became more widely available last year. The truth behind Victoria Adams is finally becoming known. And that was the point of all of this.

Your research seems to have led Ms. Adams to at least some closure and validation. As you look back on these experiences and all of your research, what do you come away with in your feelings of Ms. Adams and this aspect of the case?

Miss Adams has been dismissed for simply doing what we are all taught to do: tell the truth. Honesty and truthfulness were core values to her, characteristics gained through her religious upbringing and clearly evident when one got to know her. The instability of her early life and her later treatment by a government she once believed in led to constant feelings of fear on her part. Although she passed away before The Girl on the Stairs was published, she knew the direction the book was taking. She once told me all she ever wished for out of this was for people to know that she had told the truth. I can only hope that she was finally able to come to terms with this part of her life and realize that her wish was going to come true, no matter how long it took.

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Who Did She See?

Vicki Adams denied seeing William Shelley and Billy Lovelady on the first floor when she arrived there. Sandra Styles provided strong corroboration that those two men weren’t around. Additional evidence backs up and is consistent with the truthfulness of Miss Adams. But what about the “black man” Miss Adams said she observed on the first floor? That’s the one she said she spoke to — asking if the president had been shot — not  Shelley or Lovelady. This is the same “black man” Sandra Styles also noticed. And it was the “black man” Marrion Baker said he was about to confront, until Roy Truly stepped in to say the guy was an employee who happened to be “slightly retarded.” The identity of this figure is a mystery. Could it have been Jack Dougherty? Check out the description of Dougherty in this Secret Service report dated December 7, 1963. Pay particular attention to how Truly describes him in the document below.

IMG_20170516_0002

 

 

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The Missing Link

The Warren Commission took testimony from Victoria Adams in Dallas on April 7, 1964. Her later words to me, plus other corroborating evidence, seemed to indicate she was right when she said a key element in her testimony had been altered in order to discredit what she was saying. In an effort to find out, I searched for the original stenographic tape of her deposition. I figured while copies of her testimony could possibly “evolve,” so to speak, as they made their way to publication, it would be much more difficult to change the coded and continuous train of paper produced by a stenographic machine and typed that afternoon by court reporter Helen Laidrich. I discovered there are 16 boxes in the National Archives containing the original, accordion-style steno tapes, plus notes and other related material, of the 552 witnesses officially questioned by the Commission. The boxes — most of the tapes inside still unopened — are cataloged by the dates the depositions were taken, not by the names of those deposed. Below is a list furnished by the National Archives of the boxes in question. Notice that April 7, the date depositions were taken of Vicki Adams, as well as controversial witnesses Billy Lovelady and William Shelley, is missing. And below that is another document, also from the National Archives, that may explain why. Comments anyone?

ProceedingsCover Page

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And the beat goes on…

Attorney Flip de Mey is the author of “Cold Case Kennedy: A New Investigation into the Assassination of JFK” (2013), and the more current “The Lee Harvey Oswald Files: Why the CIA killed Kennedy” (2016). Recently, he penned a detailed analysis of the infamous “trip down the stairs” made by Vicki Adams. Titled “Oswald’s Alibi,” it’s worth the time to read. I’d be interested in your comments once you do. Because of the article’s length, please go to his webpage at: https://www.flipdemey.com/news.

Martha Jo Stroud

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On Not Giving Up

So, here I am reading “Giving Up: The Last Days of Sylvia Plath.” A good book, for sure, with a strikingly evocative title. Then I’m thinking, what would my own hardback heroine have said about a heading such as that, maybe one like, “Giving Up: The Last Days of Vicki Adams”?

Without question, she would have hated it. And I know why.

Because Vicki Adams was not a quitter. Period.

My Way

“The only difference between us,” she would say to me in her last days, “is I have a basic ETA and can’t get around much anymore. But other than that, I am still your old ornery, never-give-up-until-forced-to friend.”

Both Sylvia and Vicki were writers, of sorts, offering their readers different content through different venues with different levels of ability. In each case, however, you had to go deep – really deep – into their respective words in order to get a handle on the message they were trying to convey.

But the bell jar never descended to trap Vicki Adams within its distorted glass. She would not have allowed it. And unlike Plath, who caved in to the way things were and chose to end her life, life was rudely taken from Vicki.

Attuned as I now am to Plath’s unfortunate misery, I can understand the reasoning behind her death; I have yet to understand that of Vicki’s.

“I am actually not sure what I believe about death,” she wrote on September 21, 2007. “Heck, it was hard enough trying to figure out what I believed about life.”

Vicki passed away peacefully on November 15, 2007. Less than six weeks prior, on October 7 and while in great pain, she pecked out a 3100-word essay on personal bravery, a then-sensitive subject brought to her attention by a well-meaning friend. “Perhaps it is really brave of the listener to listen to the dying talk about death,” Vicki offered early in her manuscript, as if to say, pay attention, folks, because this is important.

Take a moment and read what she had to say by clicking on the My Way tab above. Look deeply into her final words, written during the last days of Vicki Adams.

 

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Seems Others See It Too

 

What’s wrong with the JFK research community?

 

1.  Social Media Groups-  While social media has helped this case, it has also created an issue.  Behind our keyboards we are able to make whatever claims we want so we have to be careful not to make them unless they’re solid.  Also, social media can allow us to not see someone as a human being.  It’s easy to get online and argue with someone about the facts of this case and then demonize them if we don’t agree with their theory.  We need to be careful not to go there because it doesn’t do anything except create drama for the JFK community.

2.  Gossip and Slander-  This is a huge issue in the research community. I’ve met a lot of good researchers who have wanted to help in this case, only to see them fall victim to the jealousy and back biting that so often accompanies the JFK community.  Not everyone is like this.  I know a lot of researchers who are genuine to the bone. However, not everyone is in this with a pure motive.  Just ask yourself this….what in the world does the gossip and slander of other researchers do to help solve the murder of President Kennedy?

3.  Lies-   As hard as it seems to believe, certain researchers will bold faced lie about the facts of this case.  They do this because there is something inside them that desperately wants their theories to be accepted as truth.  They have tactics for this deception.  One of them is to take things out of context.  For example, they will take a statement of an eyewitness and present it to you as the only thing this witness said in their entire testimony.  Meanwhile, the researcher knows this is false.  They refuse to acknowledge the entire text because if they do that it will destroy their  theory. Another tactic they employ is denial.  If you stub a false researcher with the facts they will deny those facts and claim you’re apart of the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy as well. They don’t mind saying such outlandish things because they know no one will hold them accountable for their accusation.  Honesty is the best policy when it comes to historical research.  We have to be careful to not put our bias above where the evidence takes us, and if we do that we will be okay.

4.  Statesmanship-  JFK was the best statesman we ever had in the White House.  Yes, he wasn’t perfect in his character, but he usually showed class…even to his enemies.  I hope we can strive to be statesman in our research as well.  As JFK told us in his American University Speech…we all are mortals…we all breathe the same air… In the spirit of that speech, I also hope we can treat one another with class and respect.

5.  A Lack of Younger Students-  I don’t want to be to harsh on this point.  I realize it’s not easy to get my generation involved in much of anything.  However, I hope the older researchers realize that their work will need to be passed on to the younger researchers in order for it to survive.  This means that it’s crucial to reach younger people about the importance of JFK’s assassination…no matter how difficult it may be.   Besides, we don’t have to raise up an army of researchers.  Even if we’re able to reach one, that’s better than none.

In closing,  I’m not accusing a particular person in this blog.  I’m simply pointing out the things that are holding us back as a research community in hope that we can move forward in solving this case together.  No man is an island to themselves.  We all need each others experience and expertise.  Until next time, keep pursuing the truth.

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The Loss of Accountability

“Contrary to widespread belief, not all JFK researchers endorse faked 9/11 attacks, chemical trails, flying saucers, counterfeit Southern snow, a government-run Ebola outbreak, Area 51, a non-existent Shakespeare, crop circles, bogus moon landings, or Elvis look-sees.”

That was a post I recently made on Facebook. It meant that membership in the first group did not necessarily constitute endorsement of or affiliation with all – or even any one – of the others. In other words, and like a lot of my serious-minded colleagues from the first group, I don’t care to be lumped in with looneys.

Within minutes it led to a firestorm of replies:

–“The WTC attacks were contrived by our government as a reason to go to war.”

As a source for this claim, one emailer cited comments made by Tim Commerfold, a self-described conspiracy theorist and member of the band Rage Against the Machine. I never heard of him. When I checked him out, I determined Tim could go naked yet still look like he was adorned in colorful attire. Who can dispute the ramblings of a guitar player from a defunct rap metal band on record as saying ISIS isn’t a real terrorist group and the beheading videos are merely performances staged by our own government “so we can go drop bombs.”

This country certainly doesn’t need to kill 3,000 of its own citizens to justify going to war. If it wants to go to war…it just goes.

–“The moon landing was faked.”

All six of them? Who left behind the equipment and other human artifacts still seen on the lunar surface in photos by NASA flybys and those snapped by

Moon

Japanese, Chinese and Indian space probes? Not to mention the Russians, who would absolutely love to uncover such shenanigans. And what about those man-made laser reflectors on the lunar surface, the ones still being used today by world-wide scientific and academic communities? Whoever could have put them there?

–“Aliens DO exist. Right now they are in secret bases on the far side of the moon, plotting the overthrow of our world leaders.”

I am at a loss for words on this one.

–“JFK was killed because he demanded the release of classified documents from NASA regarding secret alien visitations to our planet.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. Presumably, those visits were made by the same sneaky Joes comfortably living on the side of the moon that appears to be in perpetual darkness from our viewpoint, a similar level of illumination for those who support such an idea.

Have we always been this wild-eyed and stupid in our views?  Or has Facebook, Twitter and other technologies that expound on social silliness made it more visible?

Take, for example, “Prayer Man,” unquestionably one of the most popular and highly pixelated figures in modern-day photographic analysis. “Prayer Man” is a fuzzy, indistinct figure who stands atop the steps leading to the front entrance of the infamous Texas School Book Depository as JFK’s limo passes. He is cast in permanent shadow, shrouded in a spectrum of blacks and grays. Distant pictures of him amidst the crowd have been enlarged to the point of so much blurriness, even his gender is now in dispute. (He may be wearing a dress, some suggest, an area I will leave to the reader’s imagination.) Nevertheless, you can guess who many claim this mystery…uh…person really is.

In further support, countless overlays have been placed onto “Prayer Man,” the overlays, of course, all being of Lee Oswald in much the same pose. And of course there appears to be a match, at least in the eyes of those who want that kind of counterpart.  (I personally have put a transparency of Justin Bieber on top of “Prayer Man” and, had it not been for the fact the kid wasn’t even born back then, he appeared to be a reasonable candidate.)

After many years of discussion, research, and the aforementioned scrutiny in pursuit of “Prayer Man’s” true identity and sex, what is the claim of most who have studied it? One adherent offered the consensus:

“Prayer Man is most likely Oswald,” he wrote.

With all due respect to the initiative, efforts and enthusiasm shown over the decades, “most likelys” won’t cut it. It would be like me saying after 35 years of research and 300 pages of book text, Victoria Elizabeth Adams “most likely” came down the back stairs of the Depository when she said she did.

What possible value would that hold?

If the WTC attacks were government sponsored, if the moon landings were faked, if aliens do in fact live on our satellite and JFK was murdered because of that, if “Doorway Man,” Prayer Man,” Badge Man” or the “Boogey Man” really do exist within the guise being fostered…then present the hard stuff. Give me the substantiation beyond mere thoughts, guesses, speculations or opinions of others. Give me more than just misinterpretations or biased words taken out of context, more than just photo-shopped pictures or an amateur’s dissection of course gritty images worse than those taken initially by a handicapped Hubble.

Just show me the proof.

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The Error of Pigeonholing

Lately, supporters of the Warren Report have begun a campaign to lump Victoria Adams in with other witnesses who have either, 1) changed their stories over the years or, 2) suspiciously waited decades before revealing their long-held sensational tales.

In both cases, those witnesses (oddly enough, only the ones who dispute the Warren Commission’s version of events), are quickly dismissed due to a perceived lack of credibility on their part, or what is thought to be their sudden attempts to attain literary stardom.

Ironically, these supporters often cite as being reliable Warren Commission star witness Howard Brennan, whose official statements are fraught with inconsistencies, and who wasn’t able to more profoundly nail Oswald as the lone assassin using his 20/20 hindsight until his book “Eyewitness to History” came out 24 years after the fact — in 1987.

Liars

I can understand the point of view of the supporters and have occasionally found myself in their corner — only, however, when their criticisms are legitimate and accurate rather than mere generalizations without factual foundations.

But their claims against Victoria Adams could not be farther from the truth.

First, she is on record as being very consistent with what she told authorities from the day of the assassination through her April 7, 1964, official testimony before Warren Commission staffer David Belin. There is documented evidence that the details she related concerning the timing of her trip down the stairs remained the same throughout all of those recorded interviews. Her comments were just as unswerving during my lengthy and probing discussions with her from when I found her in 2002 until she passed away five years later.

Second, she was the last person who would have wanted publicity. In fact, she often told me that if my book about her was ever published, she preferred not to be a part of any speaking engagements, appearances, or media attention.

She did not come to me with the background to her story; I’m the one who sought her out. Until I came along, she had remained silent, admitting to me that even her best friends didn’t know of her past, and that she had accepted the fact she was going to die with the truth.

As to the assumption that what Miss Adams reveals in “The Girl on the Stairs” is somehow diminished by the lapse of 48 years, that opinion is equally wrong.

What she reveals in my book about her actions and observations on November 22, 1963, is certainly nothing new. It is, in fact, the same as what she provided to authorities back in 1963 and 1964. It’s just that back then, no one believed her or wanted to do anything about it if they did.

What is new in my book are the two C’s: the clarification to and the corroboration of her story, both of which were never sought. And because the story of Victoria Adams was never fully investigated as it should have been and when it should have been, the truth of the matter is only now emerging.

What remains startling is, why did it take so long?

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From A Ham

The question posed by Val from Romania was a common one: If it wasn’t Oswald on the sixth floor, then how did the person who was up there escape?

What was uncommon about his inquiry was the method he used to send it.

Most of the correspondence I receive from readers comes predominately by email, occasionally by telephone, and only rarely by postal carrier. Val’s arrived by way of the 15-meter band, specifically 21.270 MHz at 16:10 hours Zulu.

Wait! It gets better.

As an avid amateur radio operator (aka ham radio), I enjoy dialing through the various HF (high frequency) bands. When I heard his CQ DX transmission (meaning he was searching for long-distance stations), I responded. The normal procedure for each operator is to then check an online call-sign database (every operator world-wide must be licensed) to get details about who it is who answered the CQ. Val was surprised to read my bio, since he had only recently finished my book while sitting in his villa outside Bucharest.

We had a rather nice QSO (conversation), even though there was a lot of QRM (atmospheric interference) between our QTHs (station locations). In the end, Antennahis name and other radio-related information joined the list of contacts penciled into my logbook.

Oh yeah. Back to his question. Not wanting to keep the frequency tied up (and risk possible FCC sanctions), my answer to Val’s question about a fleeing assassin was succinct. But in general, my response was this:

Those who dispute the idea that someone other than Lee Oswald was on the sixth floor often cite for support a collection of statements made by Depository employees saying that no strangers were observed in the building on the morning of the assassination. These statements, amassed by the FBI from 73 men and women who were at work there on November 22, can be found in Commission Exhibit 1381.

Each employee was asked the same handful of rudimentary questions such as, What is your name and age?; Where were you when the shots were fired?; What did you see and do?; and a self-revealing query, Did you see Lee Oswald at the time of the shooting? A final question asked whether the employee had noticed any strangers in the building that day.

All who responded to that last one replied, no.

We must first assume those employees, working away in their enclosed offices or work spaces on multiple floors, were capable of noticing such trespassers, not to mention separating them from the normal business traffic that routinely entered the Depository on any given day.

It also seems obvious from an objective reading of the statements that the overall intent of the FBI agents was not to conduct further investigation, but simply to complete a routine assignment given them by J. Edgar Hoover, who was in turn responding to a request for such information made earlier by the Warren Commission. To Hoover, the ho-hum effort was like everything else in this regard since, in the director’s eyes, the case already had been solved by his agency.

In contrast to the implication that the Depository was secure and immune from interlopers, we have manager William Shelley saying in 1964, “Any one of a thousand different people could have entered or left the building and nobody would have known it.”

We have employee James Jarman telling the HSCA that a stranger could “very easily” have entered the rear of the Depository and made his way to the sixth floor because “…that day the dock door was up and the side door was open.” This same easy access was observed by the Secret Service when an agent arrived there nearly a half hour after the shooting.

It is clear, then, that an unauthorized individual had the means to enter the building unnoticed and make his way to a higher floor. Let’s say someone did. How then could he have escaped?

Defenders of the Warren Report are quick to point out that if Vicki Adams didn’t hear Oswald on the stairs, then why didn’t she hear the assassin who replaced him?

The error in their logic is glaringly obvious, for the question presupposes that any other shooter would have made his escape down the stairs at the exact same time Oswald was to have done so. But this person would not necessarily have had to come down the stairs when Oswald supposedly did.

The timing of Oswald’s escape from the sixth floor was based on a speed that would get him to the second-floor lunchroom in advance of when Marrion Baker and Roy Truly saw him there. That time frame was established at under 90 seconds, a figure resulting from on-site tests duplicating the actions of an Oswald stand-in, and both Baker and Truly. Oswald had to get to the lunchroom before they did, which therefore put him on the stairs at a specific time.

The fact Victoria Adams was on those stairs at the same time was the thorn in the Commission’s side.

But if someone other than Oswald was on the sixth floor, his escape would not have been governed by any such time constraints. He could have come down later, since the sixth floor remained vacant and was not searched for some 35 minutes after the assassination. (This, oddly enough, even though that floor was pointed out almost immediately as the source of the shots.)

Uniformed cops, plain-clothes cops, the news media, workers and others were swarming throughout the Depository in the meantime. The delay in searching the sixth floor would have provided plenty of opportunity for someone to depart in the confusion. Unlikely as it sounds, this person might even have remained on the sixth floor and then blended in with those who eventually arrived there.

The point is, alternatives exist and should not be readily dismissed.

73 (best regards)!

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